Turn back boats! Turning back on 60 years of refugee protection, or a policy for the future regulation of displaced persons at sea?

Electronic versions


  • Jack Robertson

    Research areas

  • LLM, School of Law


For over thirty years States have implemented policies whereby boats carrying asylum seekers are turned away from entering the maritime boarders of States. The aptly named ‘Turn Back Boats’ polices are fraught with problems concerning, amongst other things; cruel and degrading treatment, human rights violations, and people smuggling. Both the law of the sea and refugee law lack clarity and States continue to operate such policies in a grey area of the law. This piece critically analyses the legality of these policies and questions their effectiveness, concluding
that there is no future for the boat returning policies in their current form.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Bangor University
Award date2016